Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Optical Phased Array with Digitally Enhanced Interferometry

A proof-of-concept technique has been developed for measuring and controlling the individual phases of array elements. Electro-optic steering and beam-forming of laser beams is an emerging field with devices such as optical phased arrays that are capable of steering with significantly reduced noise floors and that are faster by orders of magnitude.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Optics, Optics, Satellites

Mass Spectrometry of Spacecraft Contamination Using the Direct Analysis in Real-Time Ion Source

Mass spectrometry is presented as a powerful tool for the analysis of spacecraft contamination when coupled to the Direct Analysis in Real Time (DART) ionization source. DART technology is based on soft ionization and desorption using metastable helium (MSHe). This provides efficient sample introduction for the rapid analysis of polymers and bio-organic compounds. It is particularly useful to the evaluation of polymers that may outgas in the space environment. In addition, this approach provides sensitive analysis of bio-marker and organic compounds that may interfere with organic and life detection instruments on future spacecraft missions.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Biological sciences, Medical, health, and wellness, Polymers, Spacecraft

Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies with High Energy Density

New lithium-ion technologies are increasing battery safety and reducing cost dramatically.

There is a need to advance the development of high energy density batteries, along with other efficient alternative energy sources. The need for batteries having a higher energy capacity, versus a lower weight, is simple to understand when stated in a battery’s Watt hour per kilogram rating. The focus of this work is on secondary or rechargeable batteries.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Lithium-ion batteries, Lithium-ion batteries, Product development

Low-Cost Communications Concept for Smallsats: Opportunistic MSPA

Provides smallsat projects with an affordable means for obtaining routine science downlink, while minimizing the cost to the ground antenna network to implement and operate it.

Multiple Spacecraft Per Antenna (MSPA) techniques have been used for well over a decade to increase the efficient utilization of ground network assets while decreasing the antenna fees allocated to the missions. In the Deep Space Network’s traditional MSPA service, two missions that will be located within the same beam of a ground antenna (e.g., at Mars) can schedule to share the antenna and associated microwave electronics. The antenna, of course, must be equipped with two separate receivers — one for each spacecraft. Applying this MSPA service to more than two spacecraft at a time requires adding receivers. But adding lots of receiver and telemetry processor chains to each antenna to facilitate MSPA for multiple spacecraft within the same beam could prove prohibitively expensive for the Deep Space Network.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Antennas, Satellite communications, Telematics, Antennas, Satellite communications, Telematics

Spatial Standard Observer

An accurate visibility metric is produced with relatively few calculations.

This invention relates to the devices and methods for the measurement and/or for the specification of the perceptual intensity of a visual image, or the perceptual distance between a pair of images. Grayscale test and reference images are processed to produce test and reference luminance images. A luminance filter function is convolved with the reference luminance image to produce a local mean luminance reference image. Test and reference contrast images are produced from the local mean luminance reference image and the test and reference luminance images, respectively, and are followed by the application of a contrast sensitivity filter. The resulting images are combined according to mathematical prescriptions to produce a Just Noticeable Difference, JND value, indicative of a Spatial Standard Observer (SSO). Advantages of an SSO include a simple and efficient design that produces an accurate visibility metric with relatively few calculations.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Mathematical models, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Test procedures

Use of Selective Oxidation Catalyst for Amperometric Sensing Electrode

A modified oxidation catalyst material can be used to build a carbon-monoxide-sensing electrode for amperometric sensors to overcome the typical cross-sensitivity of these sensors toward hydrogen. The technology will have applications in the emerging hydrogen fuel cell economy for monitoring traces of carbon monoxide in the fuel feed of hydrogen fuel cells.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Carbon monoxide, Catalysts, Fuel cells

Simple Subset Wizard

The Simple Subset Wizard (SSW) was developed for the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) to simplify the myriad ways of ordering or obtaining subsets of satellite data from EOSDIS’ different data centers. It provides a simple, coherent interface to a variety of subsetters at ten of the centers. The SSW has an additional advantage in shortening the user’s work-flow to obtain subsets by handling the search for individual files (and subsequent selection) behind the scenes.

Posted in: Briefs, Physical Sciences, Data management, Satellites

COEDI Instrument Design Development for the GEOCAPE Mission

A document describes a coastal ocean color instrument for geostationary orbit that meets the science requirements within a size, mass, and cost package that is acceptable within current budgetary constraints. This work advances the instrument design concept for the Coastal Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Imager (COEDI) for the GEOCAPE (Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events) Tier 2 Earth Science and Applications mission. This ongoing study indicates that a 2-slit sensor has the greatest possibility of reducing instrument size significantly and improving performance. The 2-slit concept permits the co-adding of iFOV observations from slits that are spaced close together, which permits the reduction in aperture.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Design processes, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization

Intercalibration of Measurements from Microwave Sensors

A study discusses a robust intercalibration technique using a well validated radiative transfer code that can be applied to the higher-frequency sounding channels for the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. Intercalibration of these high-frequency sounding channels will require good and timely estimates of the temperature and water vapor profiles. The approach will leverage results from recent improvements to spectroscopic line parameters and continuum in both the microwave and infrared regions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Physical Sciences, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Data acquisition, Data acquisition (obsolete)

Magnetically Stimulated Flow Patterns Could Solve Heat Transfer Problems

Sandia National Laboratories researchers Jim Martin and Kyle Solis have discovered a way to harness magnetic fields to create vigorous, organized fluid flows in particle suspensions. The magnetically stimulated flows offer an alternative when heat transfer is difficult because they overcome natural convection limits. Martin and Solis even demonstrated a heat transfer valve that could potentially control the temperature of computer processors. But they're not sure how and why the flow patterns occur, although clearly it's a complex scientific behavior stemming from fundamental phenomena.

Posted in: News, Physical Sciences

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